Organisational design
How can organisational design
improve efficiency in
client onboarding
and KYC?

At our most recent roundtable, we sat down with a number of senior leaders in client onboarding and KYC from top tier banks to discuss the question of organisational design and efficiency. This is a broad topic but it initiated a very interesting debate. What was clear from the discussion is that, regardless of the type of organisation design approaches being adopted by an organisation, there are key principles which will help maximise efficiencies:

Maximising efficiencies
Considerations for
your organisational design

Engage and educate your key stakeholders

Onboarding approaches vary between organisations and teams. It pays, therefore for the onboarding and KYC teams to spend time engaging and educating all key stakeholders in the onboarding process, including sales, senior management, compliance etc., so that they have an appreciation of the real-life requirements involved in completing a full client onboard within their specific business or product line.
As sales teams transition between organisations it can be very useful to explain how the inter-bank KYC / AML requirements are driven by a specific risk appetite, rather than varying policy requirements, which are often relatively consistent across financial institutions. This helps ensure that they understand why specific documents are being requested, and that by providing information upfront from the client, it can help speed up the process.

Align your teams to the business

Embed members of your onboarding team with the desks or deal teams, especially when these groups require time critical and complex onboarding cases.
Over time your team will be able to gain the trust of the desk, demonstrating why certain documentation is needed and how the process can be accelerated if information and documentation are provided right first time.
By incentivising the onboarding resources in line with the desks that they serve, there is the ability to generate a greater team ethos and reward onboarding team members involved in the most complex and pressured areas of the business.

Work in concert with your compliance team

Compliance in many organisations is detached from the pressures of meeting the needs of the business, as such they often focus on creating ‘perfect policy’, rather than pragmatic, commercial approaches which meet regulatory needs and maintain service standards to both sales and the client.
A perfectionist mindset within compliance can drive unnecessary requests to clients leading to poor customer experiences, or simply drive convoluted, time consuming processes for internal teams for exceptions.

Recognise that measuring and managing performance is an ongoing challenge

It is critical to craft the right Management Information (MI) within onboarding to provide an accurate picture of activity and help manage the perception of the function. Any MI and Service Level Agreements (SLA) structure must support the entire process flow and drive the right behaviours at each step. However, as client onboarding has many stakeholders it can be very difficult to create SLAs which drive the right behaviour to deliver successfully for all the parties involved.

To gain a full picture of the onboarding function it can help to gather data that relates to both internal performance as well as customer satisfaction e.g. customer NPS.

Obtaining accurate data for management information can be complex and time consuming, however, process mining can be very helpful in determining both touch vs elapsed timings to identify process bottlenecks
It’s important to highlight the nuances of onboarding which often mean that similar onboarding experiences will be perceived very differently by sales, by the client or by the onboarding teams. As an example, it is possible that a client is happy with the experience, but the internal perception was not as positive.

Ensure Senior leadership understand the bottom line

Senior leadership often do not appreciate the complexities of the onboarding space, however they do have a focus on overall profitability and costs. Providing clarity on the cost of onboarding by desk and sales person can help drive very constructive conversations with both sales and senior leadership. Equally, matching this information with revenue and trading activity can help drive data-driven discussions and ensure better decision-making around refresh, offboarding, and onboarding priorities.
Allocating capacity to specific desks and allocating costs accordingly can be very successful in driving a constructive dialogue with sales teams. This might include penalty ‘fines’ for trading without onboarding complete e.g. in suspense or indeed a “Priority lane” at an additional cost to the business for urgent requests.

When discussing costs with management it should be clear that costs need to be considered across the full lifecycle covering initial onboarding / ongoing maintenance / periodic review / off-boarding.

Focus remediation only on valuable clients

Remediations are costly exercises, both financially and in terms of diverting the focus of the onboarding team and management. It is critical that only valuable clients are remediated.

A standardised off-boarding lifecycle is key to prevent spiralling costs for periodic review and remediation exercises. In the case of clients who have not traded for a period of months, keeping the documents on file but removing accounts, enables dormant clients to be removed from the population but onboarded quickly if they come back to trade in the future.

Ensuring that your population is segmented and refined before remediations begin will help to manage costs and ensure timelines can be met.

Beyond Breakfasts
Join the next

Beyond hosts a series of roundtables throughout the year, bringing together leaders from across the financial services industry to discuss topics related to their organisations. The events are an informal and confidential discussion between peers, providing an opportunity for organisations to discuss and compare their approaches and challenges. If you would like to join our next roundtable, drop us an email to

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